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There are rules employers must meet if providing employee share schemes (ESS) interests to employees at a discount.

Last updated 6 May 2020

What are employee share schemes?

Employee share schemes (ESS) are generally plans that have a life span of two to 15 years. They are specifically aimed at creating ownership of company shares by employees. ESS is available to all companies, regardless of if they are publicly listed on the stock exchange or privately owned.

Tax concessions can apply to ESS interests if you and your employee have followed special tax rules. To gain the benefit of tax concessions, the plan has to be set up in such a way to ensure that the conditions of Division 83A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 are met.

If you provide ESS to your employees at a discount, you must meet specific obligations. If ESS interests were not acquired at a discount, the ESS tax rules do not apply. However, other tax obligations may still apply.

Your obligations will depend on when the employee acquired the ESS interests as there are separate rules for shares acquired before 1 July 2009.

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Annual reporting

You must provide an ESS statement to your employee by 14 July after the end of each financial year.

You must lodge your ESS annual report to us electronically, by 14 August after the end of each financial year. To lodge your report electronically, you must create your reports on software compatible with our systems.

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Contact us

If you wish to discuss your circumstances, phone us on 13 28 61.

There are many types of employee share schemes (ESS) and the type of scheme generally determines the tax treatment.

Your employee's entitlement to shares may be confirmed at a later time.

You need to work out the discount amount to include on your employee's ESS statement.

Current ESS rules apply to shares or rights acquired before 1 July 2009. Transitional arrangements apply to some ESS interests acquired before 1 July 2009.

Employers have reporting obligations and must withhold tax if no TFN is provided.